Sudbury bear problems prompt city council to call for action

City council spent more than in hour in Tuesday's meeting trying to figure out a "made-in-Sudbury solution" to the bear problems facing citizens this summer.

Sudbury council wonders if the city needs a bear reserve or a way of neutering bears to control the population

Some in Sudbury wonder if the city needs a bear reserve or a way of neutering bears to control the population. Those ideas were tossed around at yesterday's city council meeting. 6:36
City council spent more than in hour in Tuesday's meeting trying to figure out a "made-in-Sudbury solution" for the growing bear problems.

Councillors from Val Caron to the south end to Azilda have been flooded with complaints from fearful citizens.

Some floated suggestions they received from residents, including placing food in the bush for hungry bears, trapping them in a bear reserve or neutering them.

But Ward 10 city councillor Fern Cormier said he believes the local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office needs more staff to handle the rising number of bear calls.

"And the response from the ministry at the Queen's Park level, where I doubt most of them have ever seen a bear unless it was on a postcard, is slashing the budgets and the workforce," he said.

Addressing 'hot spots'

Sudbury district MNRF manger Trevor Griffin said two bear technicians are on call every day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., with other employees trained to fill in.

Sudbury district Ministry of Natural Resources manager Trevor Griffin (Erik White/CBC)

He said they have trapped and relocated several bears so far this summer, including in New Sudbury and the South end, but that's only done in "exceptional circumstances," such as when bears pose an immediate danger or when young bears are involved.

But Griffin said he isn't sure more staff is the answer.

"We have talked about potentially bringing in staff, but the question is, what would those staff be doing? If we're not actively trapping bears and relocating them, do we really need more resources?"

Griffin said the Sudbury MNR office is instead focusing on working with police and the city to "identify hotspots" and keep the public safe.

Hire private contractors?

Ward 5 city councillor Robert Kirwan said children regularly run into bears during the day in the Val Caron parts of his ward.

He said he sees the situation as a quality of life issue for Sudburians.

"Their rights are being infringed upon, their freedoms are being infringed upon. And we can't just sit back and say well the bears have every right to be here that we do," he said.

Kirwan urged the rest of council to find emergency money to hire private contractors to trap the bears and take them out of Sudbury.

Ward 5 Greater Sudbury city councillor Robert Kirwan (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

"What we need to do now is get the bears out of our city," he said.

"If I had three stray poodles playing around in my front yard, I'd call somebody to remove those animals."

But his colleagues instead committed to working with the MNRF and police on finding a "made-in Sudbury" solution, which Ward 8 councillor Al Sizer said he wants to see by week's end.

"We have to leave this council table today with resolve to end this problem now. People are being held hostage in their home."


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